“It’s good to be here,” he told “NewsHour” co-host Judy Woodruff. “It’s good to be anywhere. It’s good to be alive.”
Looking healthy, even cheerful, in a dark suit and black tie, O’Brien noted that the life of a globe-trotting correspondent is risky in many obvious ways.
“But sometimes, it’s the heavy case filled with gear that you need to be careful of,” he said, referring to the Feb. 12 blow to his arm by a falling suitcase as he was wrapping up a solo reporting trip to the Philippines after being in Japan.
What began as a bruise became increasingly discolored and painful, he said. When he began to feel numbness in his hand, he sought medical attention on Feb. 14.
He was diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome,” a condition where blocked blood flow in an enclosed space in the body can have life-threatening consequences.
Before his emergency surgery to relieve the pressure, O’Brien said he was warned that amputation was a possible outcome.
“When I woke up,” he recalled, “I thought I felt my arm. But unfortunately, things did not go for the best.” His arm had been amputated above the elbow.
His most successful coping device has been a renewed focus on work, he said.
Now he has singled out three priorities: to get back to riding his bike, piloting planes and shooting his own video, as before. He said his doctors told him, “No problem. We have attachments for all of that.”
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